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Put Out Your Flame-Out

Face it: some­times your ‘guru of med­ical bal­ance’ feels as if she has feet of clay.


Over the last sev­eral weeks, I’ve been exhausted by my tightly booked spring travel sched­ule.  My med­ical office man­ager has departed for greener pas­tures, and the result­ing office upheavals have con­sumed all my local evenings and free time to unravel. And what’s more, a dead­line looms for a chap­ter of an anthol­ogy about find­ing the humor in health­care… and I just don’t feel very funny right now.


No doubt about it. My life, just like yours, some­times feels as if it is spi­ral­ing out of con­trol. “But what hap­pened?” you (and I) whine, “I thought I had achieved bal­ance!” The error is that we often think of bal­ance as if it were a des­ti­na­tion, a steady state, a safe nest­ing place. Au con­traire. Bal­ance is a dynamic state, requir­ing con­tin­u­ous energy and atten­tion. To visu­al­ize bal­ance, think of a bar­rel rest­ing on its side with a board placed length­wise upon it. Stand on that board, con­tin­u­ously aware, adjust­ing, shift­ing, try­ing your best to stay upright and even roll the bar­rel in a for­ward direc­tion while not tum­bling to the ground. Bal­ance takes effort. But how can we jump back up on our bal­ance beam when all energy is con­sumed just in keep­ing our heads above water?


First we need to re-discover our sense of pro­por­tion, easy to lose in fatigue. Pull back and assess your chal­lenges. In the big scheme of things, often your loom­ing threats are in fact only puny and tran­sient incon­ve­niences. Nei­ther I nor my loved ones are suf­fer­ing from a life-threatening ill­ness. Finan­cially I will not need to change my career to sell­ing pen­cils on street cor­ners or dwell in a refrig­er­a­tor box. Get a grip.


After the sense of pro­por­tion, man your bat­tle sta­tions and strip your self-care to the essen­tials. This is no time to insist on bells and whis­tles, or a twenty-step good health plan. Avoid food served through a car win­dow. Instead, visit the gro­cery store salad bar and stock up on healthy frozen meals. Get out­doors daily, albeit briefly, and enjoy the changes of the sea­sons. ‘Hit the hay’ at a rea­son­able hour, insist­ing on eight hours of sleep. Make the time for thirty min­utes of sweaty exer­cise as well as brain set­tling Tai Chi or med­i­ta­tion daily.


Your choices in flame-out? Dis­tress or De-Stress. Choose to place your focus on self care, and invest your energy in your­self. You will regain your bal­ance. This too shall pass.

Humor­ous med­ical moti­va­tional speaker Patri­cia Ray­mond MD resus­ci­tates the joy in med­i­cine and guides physi­cians and nurses to learn to play nicely in our shared med­ical sand­box. Author of Don’t Jet­ti­son Med­i­cine: Resus­ci­tate Your Pas­sion for the Career You Loved, Dr. Ray­mond is the right rem­edy to make your hos­pi­tal healthy. Book Dr. Ray­mond for your next hos­pi­tal event or med­ical con­ven­tion; get infor­ma­tion at www.RxForSanity.com. ‘Like’ Dr. Ray­mond on Face­book at http://www.facebook.com/rxforsanity, and fol­low her funny health tweets @PatriciaRaymond


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